Graham Bonnet Band
He’s an enigma not from a hard rock past—indeed, intriguingly, not from much of a past at all—who has emerged time and time again to become the most important figure on a clutch of the greatest classic heavy metal albums of all time.
In fact, in this writer’s opinion, it’s only Graham, born December 23rd, 1947 in Skegness, Lincolnshire, England, and the great Ronnie James Dio, who have performed that role with three different bands, Ronnie, with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, and Graham with Rainbow, The Michael Schenker Group and Alcatrazz.
But again, Graham’s resumé before Ritchie Blackmore is weirdly long in years and short on records, contributing to the James Dean mystique of the man to which Graham pays tribute with his signature short hair, sunglasses and leather jacket sartorial sense.
Bonnet’s prodigious pipes go all the way back to the late ‘60s, when he had a couple of hit singles plus, in 1970, a posthumous album as part of a duo with Trevor Gordon called The Marbles. After that, it was advertising jingles, a bit of acting and a forgotten self-titled solo album in 1977—granted, the record went gold in Australia—before he was tapped to replace the aforementioned Ronnie James Dio in Rainbow.
The resulting record, 1979’s Down to Earth, was Graham’s long-simmering introduction to commercial and critical acclaim, the album rising in estimation as one of the very best records from that band, while also generating a couple of much needed hits in “All Night Long” and the band’s cover of Russ Ballard’s “Since You Been Gone.”
“We needed to find a singer,” recalls Roger Glover, bassist and producer of Down to Earth. “We were auditioning over the phone, and we thought of Graham Bonnet from The Marbles who had that huge hit with ‘Only One Woman,’ and what a voice! Soaring voice! So we tracked him down and him, along with about half a dozen others, auditioned, and he amazed us with his voice; it was stunning.”
“I never listened to that kind of music, to be honest with you,” reflects Bonnet, adding yet another layer of enigma with respect to his origins story. “I get my influences from stuff I played over the years, which is jazz and R&B and pop songs, you know, since I was a kid playing in a dance band when I was 14 years old and having to sit there all night strumming along to cha-chas and waltzes and bonitos and whatever else, playing to dancing, but at the same time picking up all kinds of interesting chord sequences and singing songs I wouldn’t normally sing at that age, when the Beatles were around. Standing up to sing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ was not my ideal, but it taught me how to construct songs, and really, it’s a great lesson chord-wise, and melody-wise.”
“He’s definitely a different type of singer,” once mused Ritchie. “It’s hard to explain Graham. Graham is in another world. He’s a very nice guy, and obviously this man could sing up to an F sharp above top C, and in full voice, which is very high. He was just like the cherry on the top. He had this amazing range, very high for a guy.”
Next Graham reprised this role—i.e. serving as catalyst in the making of a band’s best record ever with a guitar hero—when he joined The Michael Schenker Group for the Blond Bomber’s third album, Assault Attack. It is at this point that Graham emerges as one of classic hard rock’s consummate lyric writers—when he arrived in Rainbow, most of the songs were already written. “Rock You to the Ground,” “Samurai,” “Assault Attack,” “Desert Song”… these are cornerstones of the heavy metal story, with Michael still regularly playing songs from this important record to this day, usually with Graham in fact singing them, in the German axe man’s Michael Schenker Fest configuration of recent years.
Graham’s astonishing third time making a heralded heavy metal classic—and yet again, arguably the greatest album in a guitar hero’s entire canon, this time Yngwie Malmsteen’s—arrives with the construction of 1983’s No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll by Alcatrazz. This was a second-tier super group in which Graham was now the central figure, powerfully pushing air at the microphone as usual, and resplendently raising his game with thoughtful and, dare I say, intellectual lyrics that almost singlehandedly proved to the world that this music could be smarter than previously demonstrated.
Chuckles Yngwie, “Most of the time it was an interesting blend, I thought. Those more classical melodies that I came up with, and then his words about being strapped down to a hospital bed and stuff like that. I mean, at the time, I thought, dude, you should write more about demons and dragons and stuff, and he didn’t want to do that. He said, ‘Okay, that ain’t going to happen.’”
Incredibly, for the second Alcatrazz record, 1985’s Disturbing the Peace, occupying the guitar position was none other than Steve Vai. And then for a third, Dangerous Games from 1986, Graham, Jimmy and bassist Gary Shea worked with guitarist Danny Johnson, previously of the Derringer band and soon to join Steppenwolf.
Post Alcatrazz, Graham worked on a dizzying array of projects, most notably the Stand in Line album in 1988, with shred king Chris Impellitteri (plus a follow-up in 2002), as well as a couple records as part of super group Blackthorne, where Graham collaborated with yet another legendary axe man Bob Kulick, who sadly we just lost in 2020.
However, what is most inspiring about Graham Bonnet’s blessed and action-packed 50+-year career thus far is the following.
In his late 60s into his 70s, Graham has made fully three of the best albums he’s ever done, namely a reunion album with Alcatrazz called Born Innocent in 2020, along with two regal, rocking and yet irresistibly sophisticated records with his cherished Graham Bonnet Band solo situation. The Book arrived in 2016, followed by Meanwhile, Back in the Garage in 2018. Both of these albums represent more accurately the vision Graham had for a reunited Alcatrazz, so to speak, with less emphasis on guitar pyrotechnics and more on quality song construction, all topped with lyrics that force us to consider the world around us, both the good and the bad, with Graham addressing myriad themes few others in his position care to address.
It is with this elegant late-career outfit, The Graham Bonnet Band, that this consummate powerhouse of a vocalist and charmer of a front man will be focussing moving forward. Look for a new record called Day Out in Nowhere to be released through Frontiers Records in 2022, after which we fully expect Graham to hit the tour trail, proving that his recent command of the stage through Michael Schenker reunion shows the world over was in no way some sort of lucky streak, an unexpected late-period burst of energy.
Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Glenn Hughes, Bruce Dickinson… this is Bonnet’s new peer group, as we leave the dark times of the pandemic and get back to live music, and most pertinently, in the world of classic hard rock and heavy metal, the live music of this age-defying powerhouse of a living legend.
Got a Question?
Is there a dress code?
We do not have a dress code here at Corporation. You’re free to express yourself in any clothing you feel comfortable in (as long as you’re wearing something!)
Can I buy tickets on the door?
Yes. But we heavily advise buying a ticket in advance to ensure your entry as club nights sell out frequently. The venue management reserves the rights to admission into the venue for any reasonable circumstances (such as excessive alcohol consumption, being under the influence of drugs, threatening behavior) even if you have already bought a ticket in advance.
Do you have a cloakroom?
Yes we have a cloakroom for both club nights and live events. It’s £2 per item.
Do you take cash or card?
We take both cash and card on the door and on our bars.
Do you have a lost property?
Yes. Below is the link to our lost property page. Items are kept for 1 month. After this, they are given to charity.
What forms of ID do you accept?
Passport (UK or International) Unexpired
Driving license or provisional license (UK or International) Unexpired
Proof of age cards with PASS Logo on (Citizenship cards)
EU National Identity card unexpired